Golden-winged Warbler Geolocator Placement
Conservation

Golden-winged Warbler Geolocation Project

Photo: Audubon Vermont
Conservation

Golden-winged Warbler Geolocation Project

Our Geolocation Project will help us better understand the life cycle of Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA) and Blue-winged Warblers (BWWA) and determine habitat requirements on breeding grounds, during migration, and on wintering areas.  This project will allow us to determine exact migration routes and stopover habitat used along the way.

Beginning in May of 2016, Audubon Vermont's conservation biologists Margaret Fowle and Mark LaBarr started the process of placing geolocators on a total of 40 Blue- and Golden-Winged Warblers.  They had a short window of time to work with.  Golden-winged Warblers stop their breeding-season singing by the end of June and do not respond to decoys and recorded calls used to lure the birds into the mist nets.  These geolocators will be removed when the birds return in the spring of 2017 and data will then be downloaded.

Audubon Vermont is working with Dr. Amber Roth of the University of Maine on this project.  Dr. Roth trained our staff in the intricate placement technique for the geolocators and will interpret the data collected.  Our work in Vermont is part of a collaborative effort also taking place in New York, Nicaragua, and North Carolina.

Get a glimpse of Golden-winged Warbler geotagging by Audubon Vermont at The Nature Conservancy's Buckner Preserve in West Haven, Vermont.  Thank you to The Nature Conservancy Vermont Chapter's Katie Getts for putting together this video.

In June of 2016 Audubon Vermont's teacher/naturalist Gwendolyn Causer tagged along with Mark and Margaret to place geolocators on Golden-winged Warblers in Charlotte, Vermont.  This slideshow documents the early-morning activity.

Audubon Vermont's conservation biologists Margaret Fowle and Mark LaBarr scout for Golden-winged Warblers. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Audubon Vermont's Margaret Fowle and Mark LaBarr place poles for setting a mist net to capture a Golden-winged Warbler. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Once the mist nets are opened, to a height of approximately 15 feet, they become nearly invisible in misty conditions. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Mark LaBarr mounts a Golden-winged Warbler wooden decoy to lure in the birds. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Margaret Fowle places audio speakers next to the Golden-winged Warbler decoy for broadcasting the birdsong. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Mark and Margaret watch and wait for a Golden-winged Warbler to enter the mist net. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Mark LaBarr quickly and efficiently removes the captured Golden-winged Warbler from the mist net. (Golden-winged Warbler decoy in the foreground.) Photo: Audubon Vermont
Margaret Fowle and Mark LaBarr collect physiological data on the Golden-winged Warbler for the banding process. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Mark LaBarr determines the weight of the Golden-winged Warbler. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Margaret Fowle uses a crochet hook to delicately strap the geolocator to the back of the Golden-winged Warbler. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Each feather of the Golden-winged Warbler must be carefully checked for proper alignment with the geolocator straps, which are crafted from "Stretch Magic" jewelry elastic cording. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Golden-winged Warbler successfully tagged! Photo: Audubon Vermont
Margaret Fowle photo-documents the Golden-winged Warbler geolocator tagging. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Golden-winged Warbler wing bars help distinguish from Blue-winged Warblers and Golden/Blue-winged Hybrids. Photo: Audubon Vermont

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Audubon Vermont would like to thank our project collaborators:

  • University of Maine
  • Audubon North Carolina
  • Audubon New York
  • Sterling Forest
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
  • Private Landowners
  • Vermont towns/public properties who allowed access for Audubon Vermont to tag birds:
    • Geprags Community Park
    • Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge

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